2008 Reds / Reds - General

Dusty on SS/Leadoff

From John Fay’s blog:

For those that dreamed of Keppinger getting a shot at the SS job…forget it.

I asked Dusty Baker about the great Jeff Keppinger/Alex Gonzalez debate. He stopped short of the calling Gonzalez his shortstop but said:

“Well, you don’t get any better defensively than Gonzalez. Keppinger’s a good player. Gonzalez has more range. Gonzalez is one of the top shortstops in baseball to me. Keppinger did a fine job. You like have a guy like Keppinger on your team. Keppinger’s working out at first base, third base, shortstop, second base.

“I know he can hit, and he knows he can hit.”

Baker said he doesn’t have a number of at-bats in mind for Keppinger.

“Not really,” Baker said. “It works itself out. You’ve got help stay ready. It’s up to me play everybody enough to keep them ready. So they’re ready when they have to play everyday.’

I never did think it was a realistic idea. The Reds are paying him too much $$ to not start. Keppinger’s just been “typecast” as a utility/part time guy.

When Baker was asked who would hit leadoff when Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper aren’t playing, he said: “I hope one or the other is in the game.”

That would appear not to bode well for the Jay Bruce’s chance. But it should be noted that not one game has been played. Josh Hamilton went from an after thought an everyday player with a great spring.

Sure doesn’t bode well. Seems to mean that Bruce will need to have a BIG SPRING to make the team. I hope he does, but every day and with seemingly every comment, he seems more likely to start the year in Louisville. Hope I’m wrong.

9 thoughts on “Dusty on SS/Leadoff

  1. Managers are rarely going to trump their GM’s publicly, let alone a new manager who hasn’t even coached an exhibition game yet. Whoever thought that Keppinger was going to start over multi-year, multi-million contract Gonzalez has been fooling themselves considerably.

  2. everyone is high on kepp and for good reason look at his stats .332 in 241 AB vs Gonzalez: .270 in 393 AB. To Gonzos credit he had more pop than we thought he would have and he had a horrible personal situation that he had to deal with all year. We will see how this pans out during the course of the year, but Gonzo will start…

  3. I like Kepp, but I’d have a hard time starting him over Gonzo regularly. At some point we need a glove on the team, and at least he’s not Juan Casto.

    “The Reds are paying him too much $$ to not start” is a scary statement. What you pay a guy can be a factor in a whole lot of decisions, but it shouldn’t affect who plays. You should be playing your best guy, regardless of his salary. Look at what Green Bay did with Ryan Grant instead of running off and signing an overpriced old vet.

  4. I was going to post on this earlier, but got caught up with my actual job. I’m not surprised by this, and am not really sure it’s that big a deal.

    First off, is there that big a difference between their offensive numbers?

    I expect Kepp to be a good hitter, but show much less power than in ’08. BP projects these lines (pretty significant dropoffs for both guys):

    Kepp: .305 .363 .417
    Gonz: .260 .315 .423

    I guess that is a significant difference. Over 162 games, it would amount to 17.8 runs. That’s a couple ballgames. Gonzalez may pick one of those up with his defense, though.

    But will it really shake out like that? Isn’t Kepp going to get his knocks somewhere?

    The Reds, like most teams I suspect, find a way to get key bench guys 350-400 PAs per season. Aurilia, Freel, Wily Mo, (sigh) Castro — all those guys have piled up significant ABs in a bench or semi-starter role. If Kepp hits, I think he’ll be in the lineup somewhere.

  5. I wasn’t even aware that there were any doubts that Gonzalez was going to be the SS.

    This Baker man-love with Freel/Hopper is why stats are so vital to making objective decisions. He can’t see anything but the speed they bring and are they really that much faster than Bruce? Maybe Bruce should lay down some bunts and choppers to catch Dusty tunnel vision.

  6. Dusty lets young talent die on the vine. Bruce, Votto, Bailey, and others are doomed.

  7. Saw this on Fay’s blog:

    Today, some copies of Reds Report with Bruce on the cover were in the clubhouse. The headline is “The Next Big Thing.” Dunn made Bruce sign four copies, including one for Baker. Bruce then had Bruce deliver it to Baker and tell him: “You know, I’m the next big thing.”

    Good stuff!

  8. There is a reason Gonzalez has been a starter over his career and Keppinger has journeyed around the minors (couldn’t stick with the Royals?). I like him as an extra player but he isn’t the starting shortstop on a championship team.

    JD how can you say Baker lets young talent die on the vine when the first argument we heard against him is that he kills young pitchers. Does he let young players die from lack of use or does he kill them by overuse? Pick one but not both.

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